Victoria Day Weekend

To the best of my memory, on May 20, 1963, it was 96 degrees on Vancouver Island. I remember it because I stood on the sidewalk watching the Victoria Day parade and after a while the shirts of the people across the street began to blend together into one blur of white. I felt nauseated and dizzy. Luckily, I was able to duck into the lobby of a nearby beer parlour where it was dark and cool, until my heatstroke passed. I wasn’t old enough to go beyond the lobby, but to this day  I remember the smell of stale carpeting and beer.

We haven’t had a Victoria Day weekend quite that warm ever since, as far as I know. On the contrary, many times it has been downright miserable. Those who make a tradition of going camping on that weekend will know, having spent many long weekends in May suffering through rainy and cold weather, huddled in tents or campers.

When my brother and sisters and I were young and living in Dawson Creek, we wanted desperately to go camping and stay overnight. What an adventure that would be. We nagged and nagged and finally, our mother gave in and said that if we could get a ride out to  Pouce Coupe Park, seven miles away, she would stay with us and camp overnight. Our father had to work, and we had no car, so we were ever so grateful to our mother for volunteering to take us and to procure a ride for us.

We had a great time, roasting wieners over the fire, wading in the muddy Pouce Coupe River (a shallow creek really, except for the big hole under a fallen log where someone drowned nearly every year). The huge playground gave us plenty of room to run around and play games. It was so much fun!

1959

1959

How do you like our logs for the fire? This is what you do when you have no chainsaw. I remember that the smoke kept the mosquitoes at bay while we were around the campfire. We weren’t bothered by them when we ran around the playground either, but as soon as we stopped, it was a different story. And did those bites ever itch!

Check out the vintage of the cars and trucks parked behind the playground.

Our ride came to pick us up the following afternoon and we kids sat in the back reeking of campfire smoke, listening to our mother tell how we fared. As she spoke, I  remembered her bolting up to sit on her air mattress in the middle of the night when something hit the roof of the tent. I think it must have been an owl or some other night bird, judging by the flapping noise, but as my mother told it, she was sure the bear she had worried about since dusk had finally come to eat us all. She said she was so scared, she would never go camping alone again. (She wasn’t alone. She had US! What was she worried about?)

We never did go camping again until I was grown up and on my own, but I’ve done my best to make up for lost time.

35 thoughts on “Victoria Day Weekend

  1. That was quite an adventure for kids who were not used to camping! We celebrate this weekend here in Montana too, but for a different reason. It’s the opening of trout season, and campers are always abundant even though the streams are mostly quite swollen with snow melt.

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  2. This year the Victoria Day won´t be quite as hot, I am sure about it!
    Did you make that fire all by yourself? It must have been a lot of fun for you kids. For your mom – well …

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    • Well, it certainly looks like the kids made the fire! Pretty bad job, but we didn’t care as long as we had enough flames to cook the hot dogs. Lots of smoke though! I remember how my eyes stung.

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    • Three years ago I went back fro a visit with a friend and everything was small and not as nice as I remembered it. That’s often how it is when you try to go back to childhood places. I think in our minds these adventures seem much grander than they really were, but it shows that it means so much to kids to have the adventures.

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  3. It’s funny how we either end up just like our parents, or do the opposite. I am not a camper myself. But, one of the things I went the opposite way on was pets. My mom hated animals. We wanted a cat or a dog or both. Mom would have none of it. They’d mess up her house and she’d end up taking care of it. Now, I can’t go without a pet in my house. And, my mom has come around, because she has fallen head over heels for my pets. 🙂

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    • That’s great to hear about the pets. In our house, my dad hated animals and my mom loved them. All of us kids are now animal lovers and we all have pets – always have and always will.

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    • Ha! That’s funny. I guess if it had been a bear we might not be here now. I suppose it could have been a crow or a raccoon too but it would have to be a night creature and most likely something that could fly since it was near the top of the tent.

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  4. I’ve just been away camping in the rain in the West Highlands with midges for company yet it doesn’t dampen my enthusiasm for tents and the great outdoors. Nothing does. I hope we never get too old for it!

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    • We still love going camping every chance we get. You see and experience so many wonderful things that you don’t see at home if you’re stuck in your house and your yard. I love my home but I love adventure too.

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    • We never even tworried about bears when we were kids. Anyway we had our mother there to protect us. But my poor mother….She was really terrified. So good of her to take us camping when she felt like that. And it’s not unfounded, because we had watched a bear go house to house at night, tipping over garbage cans in our neighbourhood not that long before. It wasn’t that unusual.

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  5. Looks like good, simple fun! Long weekends now seem to be full of noisy, messy people drinking around bonfires or ripping through the bush in quads. It’s a good time to stay home 🙂

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